My Favourite Escape.

When life takes an unexpected turn, there is no better place to escape than into a book.

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What a week!

It was the first full week back at school with students after the summer break. New students, new classes, new schedules, new demands.  Not only was I ready, I was keen! I was determined to get through the week without falling in a heap.

The first day was great.

Then, just after recess on Wednesday, I got a call from my local medical clinic. My elderly father was unwell – again – and was on his way to hospital in an ambulance. Everything stopped except my mind: Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end? Must let the others know. Must tell the boss that I have to leave work. Must keep breathing. Can’t breathe. Okay. One thing at a time. Call the boss. Explain. No – don’t fall apart now. You don’t have time. 

I got to the hospital half an hour ahead of Dad because I work in town and the ambulance had a 45 minute trip, plus some road works to negotiate. I completed the necessary paperwork for him, and sat down to wait.

Waiting rooms suck on a major level. You sit there, surrounded by other people’s pain and misery, feeling alone and fearful, and trying to keep everything under control in your own overactive imagination – it’s quite some challenge.

reading-wonder.jpegSo while I sat and waited, I took refuge in a book. It didn’t stop me from looking up every time an ambulance rolled in, wondering if that was Dad being wheeled in. It didn’t stop me checking my phone and answering messages and questions from my siblings. But it did give me somewhere to go.

For the six and a half hours that I sat by Dad’s bedside in the Emergency Department, with medical questions answered and initial treatment under way, I escaped back into the book whenever I could. Dad knew I was there, but he wasn’t up to conversation. Reading someone else’s story kept me from focusing on my own, and it kept me from being overwhelmed by the flood of emotions that threatened to sweep me away while witnessing the pain and distress of my increasingly frail father.

After a somewhat tearful journey home, I thought I might be exhausted enough to fall asleep as soon as I got to bed. Nope. No such luck. Yet again, it was a book that came to the rescue. It didn’t put me to sleep, but it did relax me enough to be able to rest.

Taking refuge in a book is something I have often done in the troubled times of my life. Over the past couple of years, that has taken the form of both reading them and writing them. There are times, though, when I can’t write because the pain and fear is actually too close to think about at that level of depth. Wednesday was one such day.

Thursday was a blur of medical consultations, visits with various physical therapists, and further tests for Dad. Thankfully, at the end of all of that, I was able to bring him home again. It will take time for him, and for me, to recover. There will, undoubtedly, be further moments when I feel the need to make the world around me stop by escaping into a book.

Today, I’ve tried to catch up on the things I’ve let slide over the last few days. I haven’t quite managed yet to pick up all the threads again. I use Buffer, so my Twitter feed has kept on rolling, but many other things, including my writing, are at a standstill. Social media has only had the occasional cursory glance. I’ll get there – but not today.

For now, I’m thankful that Dad and I both survived the week, and that things are starting to return to normal.

And to the authors who continually craft such brilliant stories for me to escape into: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  Your gifts mean more to people than you realise.

 

 

 

A new low in “reality television”.

When I was a teenager, the dating show ‘Perfect Match’ was at the height of its popularity. Since then, we have seen a long list of shows that have varied only in the degree of tackiness, such as ‘Please Marry My Boy’ where the mothers of single men selected a bride for their sons to the considerably more sordid ‘The Bachelor’. I honestly didn’t think it could get much worse than that… until tonight. 

I’ve just seen a promo on TV for a show called ‘Married at First Sight’. The premise of the show is that a number of couples are ‘matched’ by a psychologist and a neurologist, and meet each other for the first time at the altar where they enter into legally binding arranged marriages. They have never met; they don’t know anything about each other; they don’t even know one another’s name. The show is openly advertised as a social experiment. 

Seriously? How is this allowed? Can this really be legal in Australia, where arranged marriages that are quite acceptable in other cultures are frowned upon?  I am incredulous at the hypocrisy of this is acceptable in our society when the right to marry is denied to loving, committed couples who happen to be gay: hasn’t the loudest, most popular argument against legalising gay marriage is that “it debases the sanctity of marriage”? Surely, this ‘experiment’ is guilty of doing exactly that. Let’s face it, heterosexual couples haven’t done such a great job of maintaining the sanctity of marriage up to this point, and this program is most likely to hit a new low in that department.  This really only serves to reinforce my belief that we are guilty of huge double standards in this department. 

It must not be forgotten that these are real people with real feelings and the rest of their lives ahead of them.  I can’t imagine how my gay friends and family must feel about the sanctity of marriage being turned into a game show but still denied to them.
It seems that “reality television” is about to reach a new low. Are we really that desperate for entertainment?